Busting exam stress with technology 💻

This blogpost has been written by Jeffrey Clark, Student Digital Champion

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That sinking feeling…

With exams around the corner, there’s no doubt that you’re all feeling the pressure. Sometimes that pressure can be overwhelming and lead to periods of high stress and anxiety. No student should have to feel like that! In this blogpost, I’ll go over some tips and useful apps that can help you and other students tackle stress during this difficult period.

Striking a balance ⚖

Here is an example of how I would organize a typical revision weekday using Microsoft Teams

It is perfectly normal to feel mild to moderate levels of stress during your time at university. There is a lot going on! From reading and writing essays to hanging out with friends, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times. Even if you really enjoy your degree, it can still be stressful trying to find the time to manage all your modules. That is why I recommend managing your time and controlling your routine rather than letting it control you. Apps like Microsoft To-Do have been incredibly helpful to me since I’m always on-the-go. Microsoft-To-Do is a free cloud-based task management app available for desktops, Androids and Apple devices. The app contains some useful features for keeping you on track such as a customizable calendar and reminders that can be arranged in any order you desire.

Microsoft Teams also features an incredibly customizable calendar that is useful for scheduling meetings as well as keeping you up to date with your university task. Managing your time reduces stress by minimizing unpredictability and giving you the ability to work WITH deadlines as opposed to AGAINST them. Another good tip to reduce exam stress is to focus on one thing at a time. Whilst revising, focus your attention on just one of your modules a day, if you can. This makes it easier to retain information on the module that you’re studying which will make taking an exam all that easier. If you must study multiple modules, make sure you give yourself a meaningful break during your studies. Taking a break is important while studying for any amount of time. Incorporating breaks into your schedule is key to reducing stress and avoiding ‘burnout’, which we will discuss in greater detail later in this post.

What’s eating you?

The Day One App

Exams and assignments are among the most stressful aspects of student life, but it’s important to ask yourself ‘why?’ Certain aspects of an exam or assignment are the main factors that lead to stress and anxiety. It could be the deadline of an exam, an unfamiliarity with the material, or something going on in your personal life. These are called triggers, which are events that lead to a negative emotional response. When you experience something that upsets you or makes you angry, write it down. I recommend the journaling app Day One, which is available on Android and iOS. The app has a simple and intuitive user interface which allows you to customize your digital journal however you see fit. Using Day One, I keep a digital journal to keep an eye on my mental health in order to avoid mental fatigue and burnout. In it, I write down how I felt over the course of a day and highlight the day’s stressful events with a note on how I dealt with those events. Don’t worry if you can’t think of them all straight away, sometimes new triggers develop over time as you explore new topics as a student or take on new types of work. If something new begins to bother you, write it down. You do not have to manage it all on your own either. Speaking to friends, colleagues, your lecturers and your personal tutor can be useful in managing stress. Remember, help at Aberystwyth University is always right around the corner, and I’ve highlighted the available support at the bottom of this blogpost.

General tips to manage stress

It may feel like the battle to combat stress is a never-ending one, but with some good techniques to manage it, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Now that you have your stress triggers written down, you can decide how to deal with them. It is important to try different ways of handling stressful situations as it’s not an exact science, and some situations may require different methods. Mantracare.com have a ton of examples of coping methods but it’s not fool proof, I recommend finding a method that works for you. Some people will find talking to friends and family helpful in reducing stress while others will find meditation helpful. Keep trying methods until you find your comfort zone!

Avoiding burnout

Visualize stress as though it were a balloon. If you put too much air into a balloon it will pop. Similarly, if you become overwhelmed with stress, you may experience burnout, where you experience feelings of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion (NHS). The best way to avoid burnout is to manage your stress and most importantly don’t overdo it! As a chronic ‘workaholic’ I personally find it very difficult to take a break, sometimes I find myself typing away as if I’m on autopilot. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m overdoing it and making things worse for my mental health. For that reason, I’ve installed the Free Meditation – Take a Break app (available on Android and iOS devices) for when I need to recharge during my break. The app features several professionally designed meditation courses and you can pick a meditation course that best suits your needs. For example, I do a 5-minute guided meditation during a 15-minute break from work in order to refresh my mind.

A woman working at a computer with her hands on her head.

It’s easy to feel like you aren’t studying enough and that by doubling the amount of time you study you’ll ace the exam. However, over-studying can be just as damaging to your exam results as under-studying. The best way to recognize when it’s time to pack up your books for the day is to pay attention to your physical responses. Are you yawning? Rubbing your eyes? These are signs of fatigue, and it is your brain’s way of telling your body that it’s had enough. It’s important not to overdo your studying and to rest when you feel tired. That way you’ll be able to take in more from your study sessions by studying on a well-rested brain as opposed to a tired one.

Further support at Aberystwyth University 💬

There are many services at Aberystwyth University to help students manage stress and get the best possible experience out of their studies. You are not alone.

Student receiving one to one support from a member of staff




LinkedIn Learning Collections to support students preparing for their exams

As exam season approaches we have put together a couple of collections on LinkedIn Learning to help you banish the stress of exams and to help you revise more effectively.

This collection has some tips and advice to help you revise and study for your exams.

Exam season can be a challenging time for students, this collection gives you some strategies and advice for managing your stress levels around exams.

All Aberystwyth University students and staff have free access to LinkedIn Learning. Please see our login instructions and more general FAQ’s to help you during exam time

Fake News & Plagiarism: Stop the Spread! Part 1 – Foiling Fake News

Blog post by Jeffrey Clark (Student Digital Champion)

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Separating the wheat from the chaff
With millions of websites available to Internet users, it can be hard to tell which ones are legitimate. For every article on a topic that comes from a legitimate news source, there are many more articles on that same topic that are illegitimate. Sharing fake news too often can damage your online reputation, credibility, and negatively affect your academic standing. While studying at Aberystwyth University, it is important to be aware of fake news articles and how to use legitimate articles and sources correctly. This blog post will give you some useful tips on how to achieve both goals which will make your academic journey just that little bit easier. We will go over the basics of fake news, learn how to spot it, and what to do if we encounter it.

What is ‘fake news?’
There are many definitions of fake news but the most widely accepted definition is any news story that is factually incorrect or deliberately misleading. The main purposes of fake news are generating a reaction, pushing a political narrative, or for humorous purposes. It is easy to produce this kind of news on the Internet as anyone can publish anything they want regardless of its truthfulness or their individual qualifications. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to detect as it is easy to disguise a website as a legitimate news source and the rise in technology is making it easier to make other forms of news, such as live reports, appear legitimate.

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Top Tips and Technology to Support Students Living Independently

Blog post by Urvashi Verma (Student Digital Champion)

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As Welcome Week came to an end recently, I hope that you have all settled in comfortably and are getting to grips with your new schedules. This means changing some of your habits and lifestyle to accommodate your university schedule. For a student living independently for the first time, these changes can be even more difficult. From managing money to living with new people, it isn’t always plain sailing. For example, when I started living independently for the first time, I managed to turn all my white clothes into a bright shade of pink!

Through this blog post, I’m going to share with you some useful tips from my own experiences, and especially different apps and technologies that have helped me to feel more comfortable living independently.

Get enough Sleep

Trying to get enough sleep whilst also juggling your life between lectures, assignments and work can be very stressful, and it can take a long time to get used to it. Try maintaining a proper sleep cycle by going to sleep at the same time every night.

Technology: I would recommend a free app called Sleep Cycle: Sleep Recorded.This app will help you record your sleeping pattern, and you can use it to wake you up at just the right time by using an intelligent alarm clock.

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Staying Safe Online: The Basics

Blog post by Jeffrey Clark (Student Digital Champion)

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The perils of the Internet 

 It’s no secret that the Internet is a part of our everyday lives. From work to social media, many of us find ourselves connected to the Internet in some form or another. Because it’s so commonplace, it’s all too easy to forget that our interactions with the Internet can damage our safety both online and offline. This blog post will go over some ways that you can stay safe while you are online at home or at Aberystwyth University.

Your Digital Footprint

Using social media is a terrific way of connecting with your friends and family. However, it is also important to remember that social media plays a key role in shaping your digital footprint. Your digital footprint refers to activities on the internet that can identify you. There are two main forms of digital footprint, the first being your active footprint, which is identifying data that you deliberately leave online. Actions like uploading a selfie are posting something using your real name all contribute to your active digital footprint. It is important to remember that even if you delete a post you’ve made to social media, it’s never truly gone. One of the best ways to stay safe online is to avoid ‘oversharing.’ Think of it this way, would you tell a stranger your debit card number? Your address? Definitely not! An effective way to remember not to overshare is to ask yourself ‘would I be comfortable giving this information to a stranger?’

On the other hand, you have your active digital footprint, which is data that you unintentionally leave behind. The most common form of this data are cookies, which are small blocks of data that identify your browsing habits. These blocks of data allow for companies to place tailor-made ads on the websites that you visit. While this data is normally harmless, they can reveal private information about you if you share your computer with anyone. Many websites now ask if you want to enable cookies, it is recommended that you disable them if you are using a shared computer or broadcasting your browser contents to an audience (such as in a Microsoft Teams meeting or a livestream.)

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What is Digital Wellbeing?

Blog post by Urvashi Verma (Student Digital Champion)

Digital wellbeing, in layman’s terms is the impact of technology on the overall human wellbeing. In more sophisticated terms, it is the capacity to look after personal safety, relationships, health and work-life balance in digital settings. In today’s world, we have become dependant on technology for our every need. While it is a good thing to utilise technology and its efficient utilisation does solve many problems, any kind of misuse or overuse will have consequences. According to some research, our overall wellbeing is impacted with issues of stress, comparison with others and time management. It leads to worsening of mental wellbeing, mainly in the youth aged 15-24. There are higher chances of mental health issues surfacing in the form of, ranging from but not limited to, loneliness, anxiety and depression.

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University Mental Health Day: Digital Wellbeing Resources

It’s #UniMentalHealthDay today! A day to bring together the University community to make mental health a University-wide priority.

An important element of the Jisc Digital Capabilities Framework is Digital Wellbeing, a term used to describe the impact that technologies and digital services can have on people’s mental, physical, social and emotional health.

Here are some short videos and courses that we’ve pulled together from LinkedIn Learning that could be of benefit to both staff and students on digital wellbeing, mental health and wellbeing in general.

  1. Supporting your mental health while working from home (17 minutes)
  2. Wellbeing in the workplace (23 minutes)
  3. What is mindfulness? (7 minutes 8 seconds)
  4. Sleep is your Superpower (34 minutes)
  5. Balancing Work and Life (28 minutes)
  6. De-stress meditation and movement for stress management (36 minutes)
  7. How to set goals when everything feels like a priority (15 minutes)
  8. How to manage feeling overwhelmed (43 minutes)
  9. How to support your employees’ wellbeing (34 minutes)
  10. Mindful Stress Management (36 minutes)

If you need support remember there are a range of services able to help.